Gluttony. Greed. Sloth. Lust. Pride. Envy. Wrath. Seven deadly sins, seven ways to die. That’s the philosophy of a sadistic serial killer in this excellent thriller. Two cops are after him: an old black detective who’s about to retire (the impeccable Morgan Freeman) and a young, careless rookie (Brad Pitt, surprisingly effective). That might sound very familiar, but don’t be fooled: this ain’t no buddy cop movie. In fact, it’s the total opposite. There’s no bright cars, no charm, no humor, not even sun. SE7EN is set in a really creepy American city where it’s always raining and where lights aren’t that bright. The people are almost all sinners. Who knows, we might be in Frank Miller’s “Sin City”.

This movie could be called a horror film. The mood is very dark and we see lots of gore. But unlike most horror pictures, SE7EN benefits from a very smart screenplay by Andrew Lloyd Walker that is disturbingly believable, thought-provoking and full of unexpected twists. I especially liked the third act and the reflection on sin, redemption and religion it brings up. John Doe might be a psycho killer but, like Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver”, one can identify with his disgust at the filth running through the streets.

David Fincher‘s direction is simply superb. His “Alien³” looked great but but its gloominess felt superficial, whereas SE7EN feels truly dark and gritty. You’ll never forget some of the sights and thoughts featured here. The editing, the music and even the opening credits are awesome, and so is the acting. Freeman and Pitt create fully-formed characters and manage to make the tired old cop/young cop dynamic fascinating again and Gwyneth Paltrow and Richard “Shaft” Roundtree are good in supporting parts, but it’s Kevin Spacey who delivers the most memorable performance. What’s the most fascinating -and terrifying- about the serial killer he portrays is not the horrors he commits, but how logical is thinking actually is. SE7EN ranks with “The Silence of the Lambs” as one of the best thrillers of the ’90s.